A former Trappist monk has spent more than half a century building a cathedral outside Madrid by hand – and almost entirely by himself.
Faith is what has driven 90-year-old Justo Gallego to commit to the herculean task of building a cathedral by hand, despite no formal architecture or construction training. Rather, he considers himself a “laborer.”
“When I started to build this cathedral, the word on the street was that I was crazy,” he said. “The didn’t believe I was going to be so dedicated, and well, I’m proving them wrong.”
Gallego says it makes him “happy” to prove the naysayers wrong because “they see what a man can do when he trusts in Christ.”
Gallego was born in 1925 and has been working on the cathedral for 53 years.
“When I started I was young,” he said. “Now I’m older. Nine decades is a lot.”
The structure features all the trappings of a typical cathedral, including a parish hall, cloisters, a baptistery in the entryway, a dome, and a crpyt with a stairway “unlike any in Madrid.”
Gallego said he doesn’t crave “anything material,” including money. He’s gotten rid of all his possessions, including his home, so he can focus on his project and his faith.
Despite his ambitious efforts, old age is clearly affecting Gallego. The motions of his hand are jerky, and his movements stagnant. He understands that while he may not finish the project in his lifetime, but that doesn’t stop him from returning to it every day.
“It’s impossible that I finish this cathedral in my lifetime because there’s still so much to do,” he said, adding that after he dies, he’s leaving it to the “divine hand.”
“I don’t know how far it will go,” Gallego said. “It’s better that God take charge.”
Gallego said that when he dies, he wants to be buried in the cathedral.
“It’s very important to me,” he said.
Watch the incredible video below:
(h/t Great Big Story)